Dangers of Poorly Designed Plant Based Diets for Pregnancy & Childhood

Have we actually ever considered what would happen if the majority of our future generation was raised as vegans, or majorly plant based? According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND), this would be totally fine & may even “prevent disease development” … They go as far to claim that “appropriately planned vegetarian (including vegan) diets are safe for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactations, infancy, childhood, and adolescence” & that these meatless diets “may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” These are rather unqualified statements, as there is no definitive evidence for this. In fact, there’s overwhelming evidence against it, indicating vegetarian (including vegan) diets may put children at severe risk for deficiencies that may have both short-term & permanent negative health consequences. A few examples of these potential consequences include-- • Impaired cognitive development, depression, weakness, fatigue, nerve damage, and failure to thrive due to vitamin B12 deficiency in childhood [1,2,3] • Lowered fluid intelligence & working memory due to decreased creatine consumption [4] • Impaired brain development due to low taurine intake [5] • Increased risk of neurocognitive disorders, including ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism due to DHA and EPA deficiencies [6], particularly within the first 2 years of life [7-12] This list is not conclusive, & there are several unknowns about the health effects of meatless diets in children. Regardless, it seems rather irresponsible to promote a plant-based diet as safe, especially for children, when there’s evidence that suggests against it. This does not suggest plants need to be avoided, but perhaps instead, diets should be animal-based, not plant-based. We should be prioritizing youth consume real food, food that comes from the land, not mechanically processed meats & soy products that have hardly been around long enough for us to understand their real implications on our health. If we could shout it off this mountain top, we would. Just something we hope to continue to encourage when we have our own kids one day.